The Light Bulb Testers

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There is a special job held by certain individuals in your life: they are the light bulb testers. They may take the form of people you love and they may appear as people you hate. Yes, hate, as in the underbelly of love. Or they may take the form of the person in front of you ordering the last jelly doughnut.

Now you’re craving a jelly doughnut, aren’t you?

I digress.

This week, dare I say as an emboldened Aries, this month (!), I celebrate my 48th birthday. It was on 4/18 and I turned 48. (8 is my favorite number. And 4 is a multiple of 8 so that’s very cool. Plus it’s my sister’s favorite number.) Thank you to so many of you who wished me a happy birthday through phone, text, social media and snail mail. It’s been magical and fun and full of love.

And, I’ve run into a few light bulb testers.

That’s when, in the midst of my intense joy and gratitude, some individuals and events have brought darkness to my doorstep—and no jelly doughnuts.

So what are your choices when you are moving into a beautiful moment in your life? What if you are in that beautiful moment and someone takes a hammer to your light bulb no matter how many times you’ve dodged his or her swings?

You embrace the shattered light.

“What does that mean, Rebecca? Can you please be more specific?”

Yes, yes I can. Here’s what happened:

The day was full and beautiful. Love surrounded me—even in nature. I saw a heron, a seal and a super cool snail!

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Then a light bulb tester came in the form of a conversation later in the day.  I made a boundary and declared, “Nope, not today. Any other day, but not today.” But I didn’t duck and I stayed in the conversation despite my intuition (which was a mistake) and I allowed that bulb to get broken. Then I stepped in the glass with bare feet again and again.

And my “old stuff” came up. The pain in my shoulder blade I hadn’t felt for almost a year came back. And do you know what I ended up saying after a few tears? “Thank you. Thank you God and the Universe because I know that this is part of a plan and this had to happen.” I didn’t know why and I didn’t need to understand why. (Though I tried for a moment.) And I let myself get really angry at the light bulb tester. I let that move through me so it wouldn’t ping around like a pinball in an old-fashioned machine. I wanted to kick myself for not trusting my intuition or for making firmer boundaries. But then I came around to compassion for myself and a softening for the hope I had for a light-filled conversation on my birthday.

Getting back to the light and burning brightly took a bit more doing. It was my super special lucky number birthday, so I took action. I prepared a delicious snack, watched a movie, went swimming and played with my son. And every time the memory of the last smash came back, I said, “I see you, but that’s not what’s happening right now. And I replaced the darkness with the faces of the people with whom I spoke that day. I replaced the feelings of lack, guilt and shame that were dumped on my doorstep with the firm decision that I was not going to accept that delivery. And days later, I’ve extended compassion to the light bulb tester, a compassion firmly lined with a boundary.

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Whether you believe in God, Source, the Universe or nothingness, there’s a plan. You have a chance to co-create it. I chose my reaction to that plan. I chose to embrace my uncomfortable feelings and move through them until I was able to pull another light bulb out of the box. I got plugged in again.

My grandmother Mama Chelo always told me, “You live in my heart, and you don’t even pay rent.” Be mindful of who gets to come into your heart and when. People do not have a right to be there, it’s a privilege. And sometimes, new people come into your heart and some people take a break from rent-free living. And that’s okay.

You don’t have to accept any unwanted deliveries and own other’s people’s stuff. We each have enough of our own stuff — no additional clutter needed.

Know that when you’re tested, the source of your light is limitless. There are always more light bulbs. Also, without the dark, your light wouldn’t burn as brightly. But protect your light. And when you need to, grab a broom and sweep up what’s been shattered. It’s okay for life to be messy. It’s a beautiful mess. Plug in again. It’s how you heal old wounds. And it’s how the world gets healed over time.

Aim your face and your heart at the sun, it’s the brightest bulb we have. And it’s a renewable source of energy. Just like you are renewable, every single moment.

This is one of the keys to living in the world.

And speaking of living in the world…here is the documentary from my stay one year ago at Drop Out on Orcas, an transformative writer’s residency. I spent 5 days in a beautiful house in the woods without cell or Internet working on the sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship. Spoiler alert: I take you to the place where the culminating scene in the novel occurs and I also create (and act out) scenes in the woods on the spot for the sequel.

I did a whole lot of healing in this magical place. I hope you enjoy it! Please share with friends!

Deep gratitude goes to the poet and visionary founder of Drop Out on Orcas,  Jennifer Brennock, for this life-changing experience.

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